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Nine fires in four hours; nobody hurt

Two businesses in one building are burned. Officials are investigating.

By STEPHEN NOHLGREN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 13, 2007

[Scott Keeler | Times]
Anne Brunner, owner of Auracle Salon in St. Petersburg. removes items from her burnt salon Monday after a fire did heavy damage to her business in the early morning hours. City fire officials suspect this fire and others that broke out in the western part of the city are arson.

ST. PETERSBURG - Anne Brunner spent Monday surveying the remains of her hair salon, the Auracle, the one she started for her daughter.

"We started from nothing, and we'll make it again," she vowed.

Nine fires were set in western St. Petersburg in less than four hours, burning Dumpsters, a fence, a shed, two trucks, a small vacant building and a one-story house converted into a spa and a hair salon. No one was hurt. Late Monday, fire officials had no idea who was responsible.

The first fire was reported Sunday at 11:19 p.m. at 11 42nd Street N, site of Wehr Realty, said Ric Feinberg, a spokesman for the St. Petersburg Fire Department. That blaze was set in the cab of a pickup truck parked underneath the two-story, concrete building, which was charred by the flames.

Less than an hour later, a fire started in the cab of a U-Haul box truck parked about seven blocks away, outside a home at 3651 First Ave. S.

Then three separate Dumpster fires were reported in an alley off Fourth Avenue N, between 36th and 58th streets. At 2:20 a.m., firefighters were summoned to a trash bin fire at 46th Street and Fifth Avenue S. While they were there, someone ran up to report a burning shed and fence at 4530 Fifth Ave. S.

Then at 2:30 a.m. a call came in for Miracle Med Spa and the Auracle hair salon at 6400 First Ave. N. The two businesses share the building.

The final fire was reported at 3:07 a.m. at a small, vacant building at 4948 Central Ave.

Flames consumed a wooden handicap-access ramp outside the spa and hair salon. Fire then spread inside the building and through the roof.

"There is a big gaping hole up there, a couple of holes in the kitchen area and lots of water damage in the three main rooms," Brunner said.

Brunner had moved the salon to the First Avenue N location in February after four years on Tyrone Boulevard. She started Auracle with her daughter, a stylist who "was very good at doing hair and was making money for other people so we decided to do it ourselves."

Brunner said Monday she hoped to find temporary quarters quickly.

The converted home is owned by St. Petersburg lawyer Joel Yanchuck, who along with his wife also owns Miracle Med Spa, a Botox, hair-removal, massage and weight-loss business.

The spa side of the building did not suffer fire damage but was full of with the smell of soot. Yanchuck expects repairs to take two to three months. He hopes Auracle will return.

Anyone with information about any of the fires can call investigators at (727) 892-5212.

Times staff writer Casey Cora contributed to this report.

[Last modified November 12, 2007, 23:59:16]

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